Georgetown, Guyana – (December 13, 2018) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, today encouraged 25 graduates of the Comprehensive Empowerment Programme for Adolescent Mothers (CEPAM), to continue on their path to success while offering her support through several holistic improvement programmes that are executed under her stewardship, in addition to those that are available through organs of the State.

At the graduation ceremony, which was hosted in the Baridi Benab at State House, Mrs. Granger told the participants gathered that, “There is always a link to get you to where you want to go… If you want to go back to school, the Ministry of Education now has a policy to get you there. If you want to continue your education without going to school, there are other means through which you can do it, my Office coordinates workshops in Information [and] Communication Technology (ICT); we have child care, senior care and Success in Business workshops. There is always someone at your back and at your side”.

Meanwhile, in her feature address at the ceremony, United Nations Resident Co-ordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka noted that while adolescent mothers and their children may face many risks, the Government of Guyana has shown a considerable amount of effort to reduce same and help these young families to become successful and productive citizens.

“The Government’s effort to invest in adolescent mothers is evident with the drafting of the national policy for the reintegration of adolescent mothers into the formal school system … this will ultimately help to reduce the amount of pregnancy among school aged girls and increase the [number] of adolescent girls who re-enter the formal school system to complete their secondary education,” Ms. Tanaka said.

CEPAM is an initiative organised by Women Across Differences (WAD), where the First Lady serves as patron, in collaboration with Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited. During the year-long programme, participants are given psychosocial support while being taught entrepreneurship skills, academics, family planning and other subject areas. To date, a total of 570 teenage mothers have graduated from the programme since it started 10 years ago.

Representative of the Bank, Manager – Marketing and Communications, Ms. Michelle Johnson, said that the entity was proud to be a part of the programme. “Republic Bank will continue to support this group, in fact we continue to look at ways in which we can even expand our support,” Ms. Johnson said. She then wished the graduates well and encouraged them to continue to overcome adversities.

In addition, testifying of the programme’s impact on her life graduate, Ms. Iyanna Grenardo praised WAD for providing an anchor from which she could access CEPAM and become a success. “Women Across Differences is my comfort zone. They thought me how to be strong and how to write things in the sand and let the wind of forgiveness blow it away; they thought me how to love everyone because everyone has been through something and they need help to recover; they thought me (how) to be a mother and they helped me to further my education,” she said.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Ms. Patrice La Fleur; WAD Co-ordinator Ms. Clonel Samuels-Boston; Ministry of Social Protection, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mr. Adrian Ramratan and Ministry of Public Health, Head – Maternal and Adolescent Health Programme, Dr. Oneka Scott also attended the event.

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